Agency Vet Moves to Guthy-Renker

LOS ANGELES ECD Nigel Williams has left the Cimarron Group for a senior position at direct marketing giant Guthy-Renker.

The move represents Williams’ departure from traditional advertising after a meteoric career that spanned the last campaigns of Jay Chiat to promos for Hollywood’s most recent summer blockbusters.

Williams was at Cimarron for more than three years and oversaw the Los Angeles agency’s motion-picture marketing campaigns as well as Sony Corp. and Universal Studios. He also helped expand the agency’s portfolio to include Lotus automotive and the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Business Convention Bureau.

Williams said he made the move because he likes the idea of “controlling every aspect of marketing a product. Guthy-Renker is known for infomercials, but they are only one tool in an arsenal of marketing tactics that includes online, print, direct, TV, event marketing and long-form.”

Guthy-Renker focuses on marketing cosmetics lines tied to celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Jessica Simpson, Elle Macpherson, Susan Lucci and Cindy Crawford.

Williams, who becomes svp, marketing services, said that at Guthy-Renker “we’re the ad agency and the client. We buy ourselves lunch.”

“Traditional marketing has the understanding of brands, the consumer insights, but this is a different mechanism,” he said. “In traditional marketing we chum the water, the fish come and hopefully you snag them later. With direct response you put the bait on the hook. I intend to use all my traditional advertising skills, storytelling ability and humor at Guthy-Renker.”

A native of Great Britain and graduate of what was then called the London College of Printing, Williams was visiting California and working as a caricature artist at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival when he decided to look in the Yellow Pages for advertising work. That search led to a job as an art director at Foote, Cone & Belding here in 1989, where he worked on Mazda.

Williams moved to Chiat\Day during its “virtual office” days in the Frank Gehry binoculars building in Venice, Calif., where he was assigned Nissan and Infiniti, Samsonite, Home Savings and the San Francisco Food Bank. He also worked alongside Jay Chiat on one of his pet charities, Surgical Eye Expeditions. “Everybody should be lucky enough to have been there during those days,” Williams said.

“You have to keep reinventing yourself,” he added. “The goal is take all the things I’ve learned and hope that it is additive to the business that [Guthy-Renker] is in. I see it as a traditional ad agency that owns its own products.”